The Glynn County Commission voted unanimously Thursday to pay a $62,500 settlement in a lawsuit over the county’s misdemeanor bond system.
During the commission’s Thursday meeting, commissioners voted to enter a closed session to discuss pending and potential litigation. Upon exiting commissioner Bob Coleman motioned to pay the settlement.
“I motion the board of commissioners approve the settlement agreement and release of claims in Mock v. Glynn County ... which includes a payment of $62,500 and affirmative policy changes to the standing bail order issued by the state court,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s motion, unanimously approved by the commission, came in response to a lawsuit filed against Glynn County, former Magistrate Court Judge Alex Atwood, Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump and county public defender Reid Zeh.
In the lawsuit brought by Margery Mock and Eric Ogden, attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union alleged the county’s misdemeanor bond system was unconstitutional because it obstructed a detainee’s ability to secure release if they couldn’t afford the bond.
The case went to a settlement conference in Savannah in November, as ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Stan Baker.
While action was being taken at the local and state levels late last year to lessen the burden on detainees, a filing by the ACLU argued “courts need only apply a standard due process analysis where a ‘standing bail order guarantees release to indigents within 48 hours,’” and cited prior cases.
Earlier in the meeting, during the public comment period, county resident Jeff Kilgore appealed to the commission to establish a “citizens’ ethics committee.”
Kilgore said he has filed complaints with the Georgia Attorney General’s office about perceived ethics issues in Glynn County but was told the office was simply too busy to address them.
As an example of ethics concerns, he referenced the conduct of members of the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals at its March 14 meeting.
“Some of you may be familiar with the recent actions by the board of appeals ... In the absence of Chairman Walter Rafolski, Mr. (Phillip) Viviani ignored county and state law with a properly noticed public hearing,” Kilgore said. “He did not once, but twice. At one point Mr. Viviani proclaimed that he was going to extend the courtesy to the people to allow us to speak, but what we said would not matter. I’m requesting the board of commissioners establish a citizens’ ethics committee to receive complaints and to make the judgments on what goes on here from time to time.”
He also claimed an employee in the county’s community development department is the daughter of a member of the board of appeals, and as such the board member was “passing judgment on the decisions that are made by her daughter and her co-workers.”
The commission also approved, among other things:
• A proclamation naming next week National EMS Week and the week after National Beach Safety Week.
• An agreement with the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission allowing the utility to use Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax V funds to repair the sewer system in Sea Palms on St. Simons Island.
• A motion to name the fishing pier in Blythe Island Regional Park after late county employee Clarence Hilburn.
• A development setback line on the property at 1124 Postell Ave. on St. Simons Islands in accordance with the county’s beach and dune protection ordinance.
• A lease amendment allowing the Cassina Garden Club, which restored and currently maintains the historic tabby slave cabins on Gascoigne Bluff, to hold fundraising events on two properties it leases from the county.
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for June 6.